Menu
Shapeshifting robots using a new material could be on horizon

Shapeshifting robots using a new material could be on horizon

Cornell University researchers believe a drone could turn into a submarine with the new material

A new material being researched could make shape-shifting robots real, but let's hope they aren't as violent as the Transformers from the movies.

Researchers have developed a flexible material that can stretch when heated and will allow robots to change shapes. The material, which can also be rigid, is a mix of elastomer foam with a soft metal alloy.

With the material, robots could become more versatile. Most robots are rigid, much like human skeletons, but by morphing into new shapes, they could be used for new tasks.

A more extreme scenario presented by Cornell University researchers envisioned flying drones that alter their wing shapes and transform into submarines.

Researchers say the shape-shifting technology could be part of a new field called soft robotics.

Researchers at Cornell University labs are still experimenting with the material, and there's no word on when it'll be ready for the real world. But the research plants the seed for others to consider the possibilities of flexible robots.

The material could have more uses beyond robotics, such as the development of prosthetics and other medical equipment, Rob Shepherd, a researcher and engineering professor at Cornell University, said in a video describing the material.

The material by design is stiff and rigid. It deforms when heated above 144 degrees Fahrenheit with a hot air gun. It returns its original shape and regains its rigidity after it cools. The material can stretch up to 600 percent. 

To create the material, researchers use a mold created from foam, using 3D printing, and dip it into molten metal. The metal alloy solidifies when placed in a vacuum and the air is pulled from the foam's pores. That process results in the flexible, soft material.

The research is funded by U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A paper on the technology will be published in the upcoming issue of Advanced Materials.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments